Celebrated British actor Sir Patrick Stewart, of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “X-Men” fame, is to star in something completely different: “Hunting Elephants,” an Israeli film from director Reshef Levy.

Stewart arrived in Israel on Thursday to begin shooting the film in which he plays an eccentric British peer who gets involved with a group of Israelis planning to rob a bank in order to save their family home. The movie also stars veteran local actors Sasson Gabbay and Moni Moshonov.

In a press conference, Stewart revealed that he had visited Israel a year ago for four days and was left with very positive impressions.

“I told my family and friends that I wanted to come back… I am happy to be here, not as a tourist but as part of an Israeli movie production,” said Stewart.

The award-winning actor, famous for his Shakespearean roles as well as big-ticket parts like that of Star Trek’s Jean-Luc Picard, told reporters that if he were the president of the United States or the prime minister of Britain, he would make the Middle East peace process his top priority. “I plan to leave Israel in a few weeks with a firmer opinion about what’s going on here,” Stewart said

Stewart’s part was originally slated for another British legend, John Cleese of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers fame, but Cleese was forced to bow out of the role for health reasons.

“It was a great honor to be given a role that was written for John Cleese. I have to see how I can make it my own. I always wanted to be funny, now I have a chance,” said Stewart.

“Hunting Elephants” began principal photography in July in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It is produced by Ehud Bleiberg, who was behind the critically acclaimed comedy “The Band’s Visit,” which also starred Gabbay.